Emerging Apple Blossom (Watercolour)
After two days staring at spreadsheets and fighting with Excel it’s been a welcome break to pick up a paintbrush again this afternoon… I had managed a dabble here and there over the weekend, but there was not enough progress to share. Especially as I had the the feeling I’d already messed it up enough to throw away.
So I began today’s session with the feeling I was just practising and this painting was now for the bin (Jean Haines-ism), as it had already been broken. If only that feeling could be bottled, because it’s just the right thing to take the pressure off and let you experiment.
So my aim was just to try and add enough tonal contrast to make the leaves stand out. One of my problem areas has always been making darker tones, and today has been no exception – it’s very hard, especially with fresh green leaves. They all look the same colour!
Anyway, I did eventually achieve a bit of contrast, and without too much mud through over mixing. I did lose some of the bright edges of the blossom stalks. but feel I made some progress in the end.
Spring Landscape (Chinese Spontaneous Style)
It has continued to rain, and rain, and rain all day today… the garden is getting a very good drink and I’ve been soaked twice walking the dog. It’s quite windy too so even an umbrella won’t save you, it just comes at you from every side.
It didn’t stop me getting to painting class though and we’ve had some fun washing in some floaty, misty clouds in between the mountains. This was a stage I was quite apprehensive about, I thought managing such light wispy strokes would be almost impossible. I found out there’s a simple technique though, you wet the paper all over first and then load your brush with graded ink that’s pale at the back and darker at the tip. Then you can use your brush on it’s side to achieve the effect of the mountain fading into the mist.
Having put this in place we were able to start adding colour to the rocks with a first wash of Burnt Sienna and Mineral Green. Our homework is to darken the green by adding another wash, this time Mineral Blue, then we’ll be ready for an Indigo wash to create some contrast followed by a last run over the details to bring them out a bit more – all the washes tend to soften them, especially as the green and blue are slightly opaque.
My apologies that the picture today is a bit difficult to see, I almost forgot to photograph it before it got dark and we’re now working with sizes that are too large to scan in. The colours aren’t quite as bright as in real life, and the paper was on a brown table which is showing through because it’s so thin.
I switched paintings today while I think what I’m going to do next with the blue flower… maybe it will be a restart :-P. In the meantime I went for the simpler option and played some more with the bright oranges.
At the end of the session I’m pleased with the way it’s going, although there were some breath holding moments while I was painting, and quite a lot of frowning at times. I was reminded why I stopped trying to master this loose style when I started to paint the leaves. I’m really bad at picking out shapes or creating negative ones, and I completely lost my way in the bottom left corner. I scrubbed it out and added a bit more and now I think I can almost see a leaf or two to bring out next time.
Now I think it probably just needs a few shadows and a bit more of a touch up in that bottom corner, and it’ll be done.
So here we have some lemons at last! Yes, I was finally brave enough to go for it and put them in 🙂 I’ve also added more contrast to the branches and a few shadows, and some leaves have had extra shadows added as well.
There are still some finishing touches needed: maybe a few distant leaves and perhaps some form to the background… I’m not sure, it just looks a bit flat at the moment. Otherwise I’m thrilled, it worked out pretty well 🙂
A few more leaves painted and a bit more depth of colour on others, it’s almost time to tackle those lemons… I’m not sure I can avoid it for much longer without being obvious and starting something else! I do think I need to add more shading to the trunks behind though, as well 😉
Something I’ve found interesting with this study is the need to keep revisiting parts of the painting that I initially believed were strong enough. I keep needing to add more colour as I paint nearby elements and realise that has thrown other areas out of balance. I can still see at least two leaves that I need to go back over again.
Still happy though… just a bit nervous about those lemons and wary of ruining it all at this late stage!